Successful people don't wait around to jump on a trend after it happens. They are the trailblazers, the innovators who set the stage and push beyond the boundaries. Today no one embodies the spirit of a visionary genius more than Elon Musk.
Little did Chris Mittelstaedt know that one day their visionary genius' would align.
A newly married 27-year-old in 1998, Mittelstaedt was working as a fax runner at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco while trying to land a job in advertising when he received the unexpected news that his wife was pregnant.
"The clock just started ticking," Mittelstaedt said. "So I called up a couple of friends who were working downtown at the time and asked if there was anything I could do for them, and one of my friends said, 'Yeah. Everyone around here is eating really unhealthy food, drinking Jolt cola and eating chocolate-covered espresso beans. Could you bring us something healthy?'"
It was long before Americans became health-obsessed and workplaces began instituting wellness programs and fitness facilities, yet Mittelstaedt saw an opportunity: Promote a healthy workforce and boost productivity by delivering fruit to offices and sourcing directly from small, independent, and family-run American farms.
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"Once I came up with the idea, I went to the phone book and just started cold-calling companies," said Mittelstaedt. A number of them were interested, but he had no funds to purchase the fruit. "I didn't have two pennies to rub together. But LGT Group—the Bank of Liechtenstein at the time—wanted six crates of fruit and were willing to give me an advance to purchase it."
Soon after, he officially launched his company out of his one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco.
Now, 19 years later, The FruitGuys has 150 employees in 15 locations across the United States and provides smart snacking for 2,700 companies, including Tesla and SpaceX and a number of Fortune 500 firms. It pulls in just over $30 million annually, growing at a rate of 15 percent to 25 percent year-over-year, and it's made the Inc. 5000 List of America's Fastest-Growing Companies for the past nine years.